Friday, May 30, 2008

Lost in Translation

My friend Sarah wanted to make sure I took pictures of all the poorly translated signs we saw. At her request, here are a few of the notables:

I don't know about all the other tourists, but although it was a very nice entrance indeed, we were really more interested in visiting the warriors.

Nailed to the Great Wall of China:

This one was on our hotel side table in Xi'an. I read through it at least three times and still had absolutely no clue:
In our hotel hallways in Zhengzhou:

On a streetside sign, like an advertising billboard in NYC or something. In case you can't read it, it says:

"Luxury only the surface, temperament generations from the deposition"

Sign posted in the Visiting Hall of the Ming Summer Palace:

And although it doesn't really fall into the English-Chinese translation category, last but not least is the sign at the Starbucks in Guangzhou (near the Consulate building):

Good luck telling them which blend you want!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A la Peanut Butter Cookies!

Today Mama and Jesse Yong made our first batch of cookies together. Peanut butter cookies, to boot! Jesse Yong was very excited to put each one of the ingredients together in a big bowl, one at a time, and then use a blender on the whole concoction. There's something innately satisfying about pulverising things when the occasion calls for it.

As the pictures show, he took his job very seriously, wanting to make sure each part of the process was done properly.

The whole experience was very exciting for him, although slightly trying on his patience, as we had to let the batter "chill" in the fridge for 2 hours. A bit difficult to understand/translate that concept... And waiting for the delectible comestibles to cook - and worse yet, cool - was another small hardship, but we got to watch them bake (oven lights were a wonderful invention), so that helped.

Judging by his expression, it was worth it!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Today we got a chance to visit with our friends Tyler and Lee. It was an absolutely gorgeous day here in Maine, so we went to a park near our house to fly a kite, toss a frisbee and generally goof around.

Jesse Yong was a BIG FAN of the kite flying. He pretty much wanted to do that exclusively. (Didn't even care about the twisty slide, which he has LOVED all the other times we've gone!)

When we got back to the house, the boys took turns tugging each other around the driveway in the big ol' red wagon (that big jug of bubbles held closely in tow by Jesse Yong):

We also pulled out the Fire Engine house and were amazed at how excited Jesse got about it. He was giggling and cracking himself and Tyler up the entire time. I guess it's pretty cool to live in your own miniature world for a while.

I know we keep saying it over and over, but we feel astonished at how well he's doing adjusting to life here with us. We have such a great kid - resilient, accomodating, adaptable, eager to please, sharp as a tack. We couldn't have hand-picked one ourselves. He's truly a joy to be around!

As far as language goes, I'm guessing he understands about 90% of what we tell him to do (when specifically/directly addressing him). I'd say he's kind of comparable to having a 2-year-old but in a 4-year-old body. He understands A LOT of what we say (in general), but he doesn't speak much English voluntarily although he repeats basic English words (please, thank you, water, milk, etc) when we say them first.

A good portion of his comprehension is (obviously) from association of our gestures with the words we use. But it doesn't take much repetition on our part before he knows what the words mean on their own ("put your shoes on," "wait a minute," etc). One thing I know is that he does way, way better than either of us would do immersed in Chinese.

I figure, give him a couple months, maybe even a couple weeks, and he'll be flying right along...

I think a huge part of his success is him absolutely LOVING having a family. My dad's birthday was Saturday, and we brought him a framed collage of photos of he & Jesse together. We had Jesse hand Pappy the present. But when Jesse saw the final framed product (he had only seen me working on it), he broke into this HUGE grin and wouldn't stop smiling and pointing to pictures of himself, pictures of him w/his Baba & Mama, pictures of him w/his Grandpa Pappy.

He just kept staring at the pictures, holding the frame, this huge grin splitting his face, refusing to put it down. He is soooo very happy to belong, to be loved and cared for. I think when he looks at the photographs he sees it tangibly represented, like proof he is part of this thing called "family."

It's the same thing with prayer over dinner. He loves it, eagerly points to our hands and each other, trying to say, "Hey, guys, come on! Grab each other's hands!" and bows his little head for prayer, ending with an enthusiastic "Amen!"

For him, there's something about all our hands held in a circle around the table, doing this little routine together that symbolizes togetherness. He's part of it, and he loves it.

I mean really loves it. I think our record number of prayers over a meal so far is four. I guess we had some especially sanctified food that night.


Our friend Shelly gave us these awesome bubbles for Jesse. They come in this HUGE bottle, with a nice HUGE wand with lots of bubble
-making capabilities, which is great for a kid who hasn't quite mastered how to use the little wand that comes with normal bubbles in a normal-sized bottle.

I wish I'd taken some pics of the very first time we tried these bubbles, because he was just soooo excited, he was grinning ear to ear. But as you can see, he's still pretty wound-up about this new-found magic-maker...

In a little bit we are going off to the park for swings, slides, more bubbles, kick ball, and to maybe try flying a kite.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday with the Hendricksons...

What a great Sunday!!!

This morning Jason filled in for my dad at church, preaching the sermon! His topic was the parable of the Prodigal Son. He did a great job, and I'm so proud! (My folks are in New Mexico visiting my brother Seth for his graduation from U.S. Border Patrol Academy. Yea, Seth!!! BIG CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU!)

It was great to be at church and see all our friends there. Even though we went last week, we were so jetlagged and out of it and overwhelmed that we didn't really get to enjoy talking with everybody. This week we felt so much more refreshed and, well, present. It was a great morning. Have I mentioned we love our church family?!?

Also, Jason's folks were able to make the trip from Peterborough, NH, to come visit Jesse Yong for the first time (I think they would have been here when we first got off the airplane if we'd let them, they were so excited to meet Jesse Yong, but they were patient enough to give us a week to recoup).

They also got to hear Jason preach and lead the worship service! We all had SUCH a wonderful visit and a great day together. One of those happy, beautiful, perfect family days...

Jesse Yong continues to amaze us. We are truly, truly blessed by this wonderful child. He is adapting amazingly well. He sleeps well and eats well. He's even starting to have food preferences, which is good, because it means he understands that food will continue to come, etc. (Jason is thrilled to discover Jesse does not like mushrooms. But he LOVES bacon...a boy after his daddy's heart.)

I think we really lucked out getting this kiddo. There are so many problems and potential difficulties and stresses that parents of adoptive older children can go through, some of them rather serious, some of them just tiring and demanding issues. I can honestly say that we have not experienced anything like that (at least thus far....!) We are VERY grateful to everyone who has been a part of this process, no matter how big or small. Your prayers and support and encouragement have carried us through.

Anyway, here are just a few pics of Jesse with his grandma & grandpa. Oh, and Jesse enjoying Starbucks coffee for the first time... And us not so much enjoying the caffeinated rush of a hyperactive 4-year-old. :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Long-awaited pictures

As promised, here are some more recent photos of Jesse Yong having fun!

Here he's riding his cherry-red All-Terrain-Wagon that my coworkers gave him (and which he immediately spotted in the pictures we had brought to China to show him a little bit of what to expect when he got to our household. He kept pointing to the bright red wagon and smiling. So, boy oh boy was he excited when he saw it for real!)

Eating his favorite food (apples!) and watching a Disney movie with Baba:

First time on a swingset, with Cousin Anna:
Analyzing his cousins' 4-wheeler to figure out why and how it goes: